Friday, September 02, 2011

Determined brothers - despite obstacles

Jackson, Sylvester and their grandmother.

Friends, you have met the children who have retained a huge chunk of my heart: Rachel, plus the precious family way in the bush - Damasco, Leah, Florance, and their mother, Grace. Please meet two others who were 'placed in my path’ this summer.

Jackson: 8th grade, 17 years old, excels in school. Jackson is the provider/caretaker of his 90 year old grandmother and 5th grade brother.
Sylvester: Jackson’s adorable brother - 15 and in 5th grade. His smile melts your heart.
Grandmother: 90 years old … used to manage a pub

Their story:
Jackson was 10, and Sylvester 8, when their mother died. He has no idea who his father is/was. When his mother died, he and Sylvester were passed to a family friend. The friend kept them for a time and then handed them to the grandmother, who was in her 80s. Jackson became the family provider. He began working for some men making the local brew/beer. He did find someone to help with Sylvester’s school fees for a short time, and he tried to pay his in installments. However, both boys were sent home many times for lack of fees, as you can tell by their age and grade.

Jackson’s words: “My goal is to finish school, get a job and provide for my brother and grandmother because they are all I have. We don’t have other relatives.” He would like to become a teacher, doctor, or lawyer.

There are many things I admire about Jackson. The small mud/wattle home in which they live - he built. To cover up the dirt inside, he put a nice cloth on the back wall and a small piece of blue vinyl on the floor. He and Sylvester sleep in this house, and Jackson rents a small room in a house beside theirs, where the Grandmother sleeps. When I visited the day before I left Mbale town, they had paid rent, 15000 schillings (about $6.00) but hadn’t eaten, as the rent was the end of their money. The brewery shut down, so there is no income.

Jackson introduced me to a man that runs a small shop across from their house. I was thrilled to find that he is also an assistant pastor at a local Anglican church that Jackson and Sylvester attend. He said he had prayed with Jackson, and that he will keep an eye on the family for me. I introduced Wilber to this man, as well as to Jackson, Sylvester, and their grandmother.

Again, as much as we would like to totally revise their situation, it’s not possible. We can only help as much as we can - in that situation. School fees for the boys have been taken care of by my Bible study group leaders, Tom and Jan Cammack. What a blessing! I believe we will be able to move Jackson to the school where Sarah Okumu is the assistant principal, which will be good.

Both boys now have new sports shoes, school shoes, and a shirt. The ja-ja (grandmother) is the proud owner of a new mattress, which she needed badly, plus both boys have new blankets and sheets. I also took them the local grocery so we could purchase food.

Please keep this family in your prayers. I know everyday is a challenge for them, but despite all the obstacles, Jackson and Sylvester are polite, considerate young men who badly want to finish school. As with the other children I have written about, they know if they have a serious problem, they can contact Wilber, who will be in touch with me.

There you have it - six children: Rachel, Damasco, Florance, Leah, Jackson, and Sylvester who have touched my heart and enriched my life in Mbale town. May I always remember - it is possible to smile even when life is difficult, as these children have taught me. My prayer: May God hold them gently in His hands until I can return to receive a huge hug and smile once more. I will miss them.

- Trudy

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